by Judith Sudilovsky
For nine years, Randa Aweis battled kidney disease, urgently in need of a transplant.
In mid-May, a donor was found for the 58-year-old mother of six, a Catholic Palestinian who lives in Jerusalem.
The circumstances were unusually painful because the donor — Yigal Yehoshua — a 56-year-old Jewish Israeli man from the mixed city of Lod who worked for tolerance and coexistence, was stoned to death by an Arab mob during violence by both Jews and Arabs in the city in mid-May. Arab and Jewish gangs rioted in mixed cities throughout Israel following the May 10 outbreak of violence between Israel Hamas May 10.
“Yigal will go straight to heaven, to a better place, and he will always be with me,” Aweis said from her hospital bed at Hadassah Medical Center, where the transplant was performed by Dr. Abed Khalaileh, director of Hadassah’s Kidney Transplantation Service, who is Muslim. “Here we must all, Christians, Muslims and Jews, strive for peace. I don’t distinguish between Christian, Muslim or Jew — we are all human beings.”
She said she was very thankful to Yehoshua’s family and wished them lots of health. She said she hopes to meet with them as soon as she is well enough, adding that now the Jewish family would always be a part of her family.
The tragedy that the possibility of her transplant came during one of the most violent exchanges in years between Palestinians and Israelis is not lost on her, she noted. Aweis said she hopes her story can be a bridge for peace and, despite still recuperating from the operation, she has been eager to speak out about her transplant.
“My story is one of peace, and God willing there will be peace,” Aweis said May 21, the first full day of a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel after 11 days of violence.
Four other people were able to receive organ transplants from the Yehoshua.
In a similar case, the organs of 17-year-Muhammad Mahamid, a Muslim youth from a leading family in the Arab Israeli town of Um al Faham, were transplanted to five Jews and one Arab. Mahamid was killed during demonstrations against the war; police are still investigating the cause of death, though the family maintains he was killed by police.
“We respect all people. I live in this country and I ask that every person think that Jews and Arabs are the same,” his father, Mahmud Mahamid, was quoted by the Israeli Walla news site. “My son, blessed be his memory, died, but I want to give people life.”